Page:Nature and Character of our Federal Government.djvu/84

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TRUE NATURE AND CHARACTER OF

acknowledged ability, the weakness of stating a proposition merely for the sake of the poor triumph of refuting it. With what other motive, then, did he make a statement which is unsupported, as matter of fact; which involves no disputed or doubted question of constitutional law, and which attributes to a large class of his fellow-citizens opinions which would justly expose them to the scorn of all correct thinkers? That class profess to hold, in their utmost latitude and in their strictest applications, the doctrines of the State Rights' school of politics. They believe that those doctrines contain the only principle truly conservative of our Constitution; that without them there is no effective check upon the federal government, and, of course, that that government can increase its own powers to an indefinite extent; that this must happen in the natural course of events, and that, ultimately, the whole character of our government will be so changed, that even [ *69 ] *its forms will be rejected, as cumbrous and useless, under the monarchy, in substance, into which we shall have insensibly glided. It is, therefore, because they are lovers of the Constitution and of the Union, that they contend strenuously for the rights of the States. They are no lovers of anarchy nor of revolution. Their principles will cease to be dear to them, whenever they shall cease to subserve the purposes of good order, and of regular and established government. It is their object to preserve the institutions of the country as they are, sincerely believing that nothing more than this is necessary to secure to the people all the blessings which can be expected from any government whatever. They would consider themselves but little entitled to respect as a political party, if they maintained the loose, disjointed, and worse than puerile notions, which the author has not thought it unbecoming to impute to them.

It is the peculiar misfortune of the political party to which I have alluded, to be misunderstood and misrepresented in their doctrines. The passage above quoted affords not the least striking instance of this. It is a great mistake to suppose that they have ever contended that the right of State interposition was given in the express terms of the Constitution; and, therefore, they have not "forced this principle into the language of that